Curtis White: A Good Without Light
In a world where carbon foot print, green initiatives and conservation efforts have become common place household words, a voice of irascible reasoning challenges the capitalist technocracy that created it. In his essay, “A Good Without Light”, Curtis White proposes that sustainability has taken on philosophical properties and is a futile attempt by empirical science to figure out ways to maintain the status quo without impacting social norms. He argues that our global capitalistic society is governed by a system in which scientists, engineers, and technicians have high social standing and political power. He claims that our capitalistic nature, supported by egotistical scientism, is incapable of finding solutions to our environmental crisis. White suggests that humans are incapable of change due to our capitalistic nature. He validates his point with the metaphor “Barbaric Heart”. White draws a direct connection between selfish violence and virtue, and suggests that the solution to our environmental issues may very well come from the unexpected sector of arts, religion, and moral imagination vice those that created it (836). “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it” (Einstein). The picture that Curtis White paints has manifested itself in the literary canvass of many scientific minds and great thinkers alike. White states that we can talk about our plans to save the world, but we can’t talk about the economic system that put it in jeopardy in the first place. White feels that we as humans act in general accordance with our social conditions and that the transference of the religious, scientific ideology from the mouths of the influential redirect blame from the elite ruling class to the common person (836). This paradox essentially provides the catalyst needed for generating self-guilt for the predicaments we find ourselves in. White’s essay builds a philosophical conceptual frame work that is deeply rooted in environmental prejudices which calls into question his objectivity. White’s argument that political and business organizations use “sustainability” to generate hope amongst the concerned masses is arguably on point. However, he goes on to state that we would be mistaken to think that the point of sustainability was to change our ways. He suggests that this is partially in part due to the general assumption that the system that produced our current environmental crisis is bad but that system does not need to be replaced. He states, as a matter of fact, that sustainability often seems to preserve the status quo vice solve the issue at hand (837). I tend to disagree with this assertion. The crux of the matter is that when we came out of our caves, mastered fire, invented the wheel, and formed a society able to sustain itself with agriculture; we overcame natural selection (All About Science). Simply put, we found ways to adapt ourselves to the scenarios that were unfolding around us. Adapting meant that we are inherently conscience, not only to the things around us, but to ourselves and the long term consequences of our actions. If we are able to adapt and overcome, then we can certainly find the answer to our current crisis. White states: What no one is allowed to consider is the distressing possibility that no amount of tinkering and changing and greening and teaching the kindergartners to plant trees and recycle Dad’s beer cans will ever really matter if our assumptions of what it means to be prosperous, to develop, to have progress, and be free, remain what they have been for the last four hundred years (838). What White is suggesting is that we have not taken the next logical step towards evolution, so we are doomed to suffer the consequences of our actions. Stated differently, if we keep engaging in a philosophy that follows a line of thinking where morality, justice, consumerism, and individualism dictate that...
Cited: White, Curtis. “A Good Without Light” from Inquiry To Academic Writing 2nd ed: A text
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